I remember so vividly three years back in 2016 when I was conducting my college search that one of the deciding-factor questions I’d always ask was, “do you have an abroad program?” And here I am, three years later, which only feels like three days later, counting down the mere weeks I have left in the U.S. before I go off to England for six whole months.
My fascination with England comically began when I fell in love with the boy band, One Direction when I was in middle school. However, when my fascination with the boy band ended, my interest in the English culture stayed. In fact, when I went to my mandatory “Foundations of Study Abroad” info session a year back (a presentation given to me by a UEA student, nonetheless) and I was informed that there was an exchange program in England that Temple was a part of, I completely zoned out for the rest of the presentation and daydreamed about fish and chips and Harry Styles.
In all seriousness, though, I did take an immediate interest in the UEA exchange program because of the location and the university’s reputation for both literature and American studies. This prompted me to walk right up to the UEA student who presented the info session immediately afterwards to pick his brain. He was so excited to tell me more about UEA and I was so excited to readily listen. I remember my heart racing out of the excitement of possibilities when he handed me a campus map and a glossy-covered info book on Norwich to page through. My fingertips held my possible fate.
From that day forward, I plowed through the application process and upon approval, was completely over the moon. I always wanted to go abroad during my college career, but to be blunt, I never thought I would actually make it this far. As the time to leave approaches (as it’s now November and I leave in January), the feelings are becoming more complex. This whole pipe dream becoming a reality does make me nervous at times. I’ve only left the country once and it was for a high school trip… this is so different. As I grapple with these complex emotions – the thought of picking up and shipping out for a whole semester – I remember the remarks of all of my friends and family, which can be summed up by the following phrase: “I’m so incredibly jealous of you.”
I smile humbly when I hear this and all of my minuscule doubts melt away. This is the absolute opportunity of a lifetime, in the most beautiful country, at a top-ranked university. I reflect on when I moved out to Philly for my freshmen year, a city that was completely new and foreign to me (I only visited this amazing city once before move-in, to tour Temple). I hugged my parents goodbye after move in, turned around, and never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life.
I can’t help but directly relate my move to Philadelphia with my upcoming trip to Norwich, England. All I have to do is hug my parents goodbye at the airport, turn around, and not look back.